Serviced apartments offer cost savings and an enhanced experience for travellers
Making the most of long-stay accommodation
As serviced apartments continue to evolve, the model becomes more flexible. Where once they were available only for stays of a minimum of 90 days, now many can be booked for just one night, and it is worth taking the time to understand who is offering what and how they can be booked.
“Survey and analyse your lengths of stay to see what accommodation types would enhance the choices,” advises Q Skyline’s Lorna Keen. “Providing travellers with options and asking them to try out something new and then to share their experience with the community, can help to encourage change. This will lead to a longer-term cost reduction and enhance the traveller’s experience.”
There are also ways to use serviced apartments to ensure best value, including using studios, opting for a secondary location and asking travellers to share with colleagues. Millennials now joining the workplace have been brought up with a much more relaxed attitude and are more open to the idea of sharing.
Consulting giant PwC says it has seen an increased demand for apartments because they are a better fit for staff staying away from home for a long period, and are more cost effective than a hotel.
Sam van Leeuwen, the firm's head of hotels and venues programme, says PwC has begun switching to two-bedroomed apartments for bigger projects, with staff benefitting from companionship and the company saving money.
“In Greenwich we even have three-bed apartments,” she says.
“That is one of the changes over the past few years. Some of the more
junior staff, graduates, are used to sharing and as long as apartments have a bedroom with bathroom, we are happy with that,” she says. “It is very cost effective for us to use them to deliver a project and cost-effective for the client as well.”
The price is right
Van Leeuwen does not foresee any change of approach because of Brexit but, “If anything, it is about different cost models. It all has to fit a project and client budget; it is a very cost focused environment.”
This echoes Amanda Metcalfe’s comment about organisations being tied to a budget and having to find accommodation that fits the bill – in any sense.
In addition two- or three-bed apartments can work for colleagues who want to work and eat together.
For example, if they have been relocated and want to live with people who speak their mother tongue or cook and eat the same food.
A full service hotel will always be higher in pricing, regardless of size. “A lot of the serviced apartments say you get all this space but it is a selfcatering option. For me it’s not about the size of the apartment, it is about the soft services that are on top or taken off.
“I want the flexibility and freedom of a serviced apartment unit,” says AIG’s global accommodation manager, Jan Jacobsen. “They don’t have the service element, except for housekeeping once a week, and anything else you pay for. In a hotel, you get 2.6 staff members per guest room and you pay more. The apartment world has to sit below the hotel world and my saving in the apartment world is significant, up to 47%,” he says.
Jacobsen also includes the home rental sector in his inventory and uses products such as onefinestay by Accor, Veeve (Wyndham) and Oasis (Hyatt), which ensures they are professionally managed. “We are exploring options at the moment to enhance that further,” he says.
A good example of serviced apartments that lend themselves to corporate use of a secondary location are Portfolio Apartments’ stock in Hatfield, Welwyn Garden City and Stevenage, all on the A1M corridor and just 25 minutes from London King’s Cross.
The company has 20 units, has only corporate business and is surrounded by major organisations such as gsk,
Tesco, Roche, ee, Airbus, Mitsubishi, ICT and more.
“We have been looking after a lot of Tesco’s Oracle contractors, who have been working on site since last year,” says managing director of Portfolio, Carly Fitzpatrick. “We beat the local hotels all the time because their prices are on a par with London. They can get away with that because they have 95% occupancy Monday to Thursday.”
UBS mandates that travellers staying away for five nights use serviced apartments where the bank has a negotiated programme – in London, Zurich and Krakow – unless hotels are cheaper. “If they book into a different destination that doesn’t apply because we won’t have negotiated rates so the price might not be as competitive as hotels,” says group corporate services, global travel manager, Kevin Carr.
The bank books 10,000 nights in serviced apartments per year and saves some £50 per night, plus F&B and laundry savings. The numbers speak for themselves.
Travel manager of Matalan, Amanda Worthington, currently buys 240 nights in Staybridge Suites at around £100 a night. Matalan operates on billback and because the company books a lot of IHG properties, the Staybridge Suites inventory goes through the normal payment processes and can be booked through HRS. Sometimes savings are not the only driver. “We don’t do this as a saving, it’s more for the facilities and space,” she says.
Apartments can give serious savings over hotel rates but it requires time and patience to work out which model best suits your needs. That said, the effort repays buyers in spades.
"Apartments can give serious savings over hotel rates but it requires time and patience to work out which model best suits your needs. That said, the effort repays buyers in spades"